by Becky Panter
This is how Saskatchewan Angel Dresses got started, I’m going to give my all in this. I apologize if it’s hard to read, but I’m going to tell my story, as best I can and why I decided to donate my dress.
My name is Becky Panter, in July 2013, at 30 years old and 34 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with *HELLP syndrome and had an emergency induction at Regina General Hospital(RGH). Due to Brayden being intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), he was measuring small and had to stay in the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU). We lived there for only two weeks, however, those were two of the longest weeks of my life. My boy friend and I stayed in Regina and my two girls, 3 hours away with my ex husband. It was hard and rough, but only 2 weeks, we were lucky, our boy came home!
With my HELLP I had many problems with my renal system and my liver, my platelets were really low, so I figured that’s why I wasn’t feeling good. Never thought anything, finally at the end of February, I decided to take a pregnancy test. It was positive and I was terrified. I was done after Brayden, that was the most terrifying thing that had ever happened to me, even working ambulance.
Less than a week later, before we even told our parents, I started bleeding, I knew what was happening, I also know that all that could be done is rest, so I tried taking it easy, knowing that I was probably losing my baby. When Christopher was born, he was perfect, sleeping but perfect. Little tiny feet, beautiful little hands, looking just like his big brother, he fit in the palm of my hand. My baby was gone, I felt horrid. Not only had I lost my baby, I felt that my fear of being pregnant caused my body to reject him. I wrapped Christopher up in a fleece owl patterned blanket that I had for my daughters dolls, and I held him and cried. My heart was broken.
Less than 4 days later my boyfriend went to Houston Texas on a business trip. Home alone, and in grief I went on the internet. On the RGH NICU page there was a shared post about the NICU helping hands from Fort Worth. My wedding dress from my marriage wasn’t going to be used again. My mom had suggested getting dresses made for my daughters, but there was something more that could be done…Angel Dresses. However, I started thinking, how is a dress to make it to Texas, get made into Angel dresses and back up here? It would be expensive and take forever. So, I went on face book asking if anyone would sew my dress into angel dresses. The response in my small corner was amazing! Two seamstresses and thirty dresses later, my thought of the RGH NICU turned into the Royal University Hospital (RUH) NICU also. I was so happy.
About a month later, my cousin from Saskatoon had seen someone giving away her dress and mentioned angel dresses. We blossomed and grew. Saskatchewan Angel Dresses face book page was born, around 1300 members in one week! I’m thinking around 2-300 dresses, amazing seamstresses and collectors giving their time! I was overjoyed. My grief caused a ripple effect in a pool that will now help other parents in Saskatchewan.
But why stop at saskatchewan? Canada is a beautiful huge country, let’s keep it going, and it has!
I believe everything happens for a reason, while the heartbreak of my baby Christopher James, becoming an angel has broken me in more ways than I will ever know, I know there is a reason that he was born, I figured it out, he was meant to inspire. Inspire the beauty in people to go from perfect strangers to giving their gown from happy days to help console parents on very sad days.
I thank each and every one of you that help me. I started with small goals, we have no need for small goals, we are amazing, we have huge goals. However as long as I am, I will promise that every angel baby will have a beautiful outfit.
*HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening obstetric complication usually considered to be a variant or complication of pre-eclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth. “HELLP” is an abbreviation of the three main features of the syndrome: Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count